Gay Vacations in New York City, New York

Lights in Times Square at night in New York City, New York
Times Square, New York City (Brand X Pictures)

New York City Highlights

  • Choose your lodging based on your interests. If you want to experience the classic gay and lesbian scene, choose Chelsea. If you're into theater, stay in Times Square. If you’re into the city’s vibrant African-American community, stay in Harlem. If you prefer the grungy, artsy scene, choose the Lower East Side.
  • Learn the secret schedule of taxis. When taxi drivers change shifts around 4 or 5 p.m. and 4 or 5 a.m., it can be extremely difficult to grab a cab. They may simply stop and ask you where you’re going to see if you’re going their way. If you’re not, they may decline to take you. Avoid cab problems by learning the subway system—it’s by far the cheapest way to get around and have a true NYC experience at the same time!
  • Add on Fire Island. During the season on Fire Island (roughly May to September), you can feel like a real New Yorker by joining in on the lively beach scene here. Of the two main LGBT enclaves on the island, The Pines is more male and exclusive; Cherry Grove is more lesbian and democratic. There are a handful of lodging options on the island, including The Grove Hotel in Cherry Grove—just book early.

America's largest city is a country unto itself. Sure, it may have become more sanitized and gentrified in the past few years, with 9/11 adding a dose of melancholy to the city’s diehard ambition. But New York City will always be one of the premier destinations for LGBT travelers looking for a monumental experience that demands all the energy, attention, and creativity that you can muster. It’s nothing less than exhilarating.

Among New York City's five boroughs, Manhattan is still where most of the LGBT scene is located, despite the gnashing of teeth over the closing of major gay venues in recent years. Popular areas include the West Village (centered on Christopher Street, the oldest gay area home to the famous Stonewall bar), the East Village (including the Lower East Side, home to funky and wild gay bars), Chelsea (the neighborhood that became gayer in the '80s and '90s), and newer queer-popular areas like Hell's Kitchen near Times Square and Harlem (becoming more and more gentrified and gay-welcoming). Brooklyn is the second-gayest borough and seems to be getting queerer every year—particularly in young, artsy Williamsburg and leafy, lesbian-popular Park Slope. In Queens, the Greek-flavored ‘hood of Astoria is an up-and-coming gay area, as is the multi-ethnic enclave of Jackson Heights, home to a slew of gay bars. But basically, you’ll find LGBT life alive and well everywhere in New York—even in the uber-straight Bronx!

A gay trip to New York can be anything you want to make it: Check out the LGBT theater scene, take a tour of gay art galleries in Chelsea, explore the newly identified queer ethnic scene in Queens, take a limo tour of queer Manhattan historical sites, delve into the leather bars, listen to queer poetry slams, watch gay rugby matches, and dine in fine lesbian restaurants! Just don't bite off more than you can chew—there is plenty of the Big Apple to feed you for multiple trips throughout your lifetime.

There are LGBT events going on year-round in New York, but come in June for the big gay events, including the NewFest queer film series, the Manhattan pride parade that overwhelms Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn pride, Queens pride, and the leathery Folsom Street East street fair.

Published: 16 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 9 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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